This is the view we saw as we were exiting the 9:03 gate.
The church across the street has erected this statue of Christ, He is turned away from the sight in despair, covering his face, and weeping.
One thing about deciding to move to the other side of the world, is that many people are affected by your decision. Grandparents are saddened, children face transition, employers have to make adjustments, and all of these can be tough to face. I have often faced guilt or worry at different turns in this process and it has been the source of much prayer.
One of the areas where I’ve grieved the most is with our schooling. I love homeschooling and it has been a good fit for our family thus far. But, we’re not sure that it will be a long term choice for us. In fact, when we first get to West Africa, we are seriously considering putting them in an academy there that our agency supports. It would be a good educational opportunity for them, and it’s strongly encouraged during our time of language learning and cultural adjustment. So, we’re praying through the release of that part of our life. It’s a big deal to me for several reasons.
First of all, let’s be honest. When you homeschool, you feel a lot of pressure for your children to have solid academic skills, especially if they are going to transition into a school environment. The bottom line is, if my students are behind, I am largely responsible for that. My discipline or lack of discipline largely dictates their skills in the early grades. While every child is different in their strengths and weaknesses, most homeschool moms at least want to see their students perform on grade level. For me, there has been this constant nagging worry that I haven’t done my job well.
We have worked really diligently this year on our school work. Knowing that transition and a possible school environment were on the horizon, I have tried hard to make every day as free of distractions as possible. I’ve worked to have lessons ready for the children each Monday morning so that our instructional time can be well used. But, even with all of those measures, life happens and interruptions come.
One of my students struggles with Spelling. The crazy thing is, she’s a math whiz, a voracious reader, and she’s fearless in putting her ideas down on paper. But, when it comes to using the conventions of dictionary spelling, she has trouble. Knowing that, I decided to choose a more intense spelling program for her to use. The thing is, it’s teacher intensive, which means I have to be involved. So you can imagine, with selling a house, traveling, and preparing to travel, it has often sat on the shelf for a week or two at a time. And, I’ve worried a bit about that.
Last week, when we spent most of the week in KY for Ryan’s granny’s funeral, I couldn’t help but think about that darn spelling that wasn’t getting done. I knew that the things we were experiencing were important life lessons. I knew that the relationships we were investing in were important. But, I also knew that none of that was doing anything to improve her Spelling skills. On the way back from KY, I was sharing with Ryan my concerns about the children and the fact that time for structured lessons was slipping through my fingers too quickly. I said to him, “I know that God has not been surprised by any of these interruptions. He knew that we would sell our house and have to move. He knew that I would get a head injury in the middle of all of it. He knew that your grandmother would die and he knew that I would lose a week with vertigo. He also knows that I am being the very best steward of our school time that I know how to be. So, I am going to choose to release this concern about school to Him.” And I did. Or at least I tried to. And I just reminded myself every time that I wanted to get anxious about it of what I had said to Ryan.
The Lord is so tender with me when I confess these things to Him. This weekend, the first morning that I got to my hotel, I opened my suitcase before getting in the shower and I found a surprise note from my struggling speller. The words were sweet, but what really struck me was that only one of those words was spelled incorrectly. And it was if the Lord just said to me. Trust me, trust ME. I love your children, I will take care of the needs of your children. Just be obedient to what I have called you to do.
I got into the shower and just spent a few minutes in prayer with Him, thanking Him for using that bright orange note, written in red marker to remind me that He cares about the details of my life. I was singing in the shower, “I Surrender All.” Even the Spelling lessons. Then, I got out of the shower and went to the computer where I decided to pull up The Utmost for HIs Highest devotional for the day. When it came up on the screen the title said, “Total Surrender.” and the following selection really affirmed everything that I felt God was telling me that morning.
“Where does Jesus Christ figure in when we have a concern about our natural relationships? Most of us will desert Him with this excuse—”Yes, Lord, I heard you call me, but my family needs me and I have my own interests. I just can’t go any further” (see Luke 9:57-62). “Then,” Jesus says, “you ’cannot be My disciple’ ” (see Luke 14:26-33).
True surrender will always go beyond natural devotion. If we will only give up, God will surrender Himself to embrace all those around us and will meet their needs, which were created by our surrender. Beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God. Most of us have only a vision of what this really means, but have never truly experienced it.”
I am so thankful that I serve a God who desires to be in relationship with me. I am so thankful that He pursues me, even when I am being bull-headed. I am so thankful for His word, which ministers to me in every area of my life. I rest in verses like these, “ Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3
This weekend, I did something that was VERY out of character for me. I climbed on a plane, by myself, and flew to Atlanta with no objective except to have fun. I met up with the 3 long time friends from college who were bridesmaids in my wedding. I had a fabulous weekend and, as I sit in the airport, ready to fly home, I am excited about seeing my family. I find that my children’s cute level always triples after a few days apart.
None of us would have normally initiated a weekend like this. We’re just happy homeschool moms who don’t get out much. But we were motivated by the fact that one of us (that would be me) is about to leave the continent. So, we put the energy necessary into covering our responsibilities and we decided to do something for ourselves. I am so glad we did!
We had a great time. Three of us stayed together for the weekend, and our 4th friend lives in Atlanta, so we just spent Saturday with her. We had so much fun gabbing, laughing, eating, exploring, and encouraging one another. Even though it had been a long time since we have been able to spend that kind of time together, we didn’t miss a beat. They are all women whom I would still choose for friends if we met for the first time today. They are women who have a heart for their families and their communities. They are all seeking the Lord’s will for their lives and relying on Him for direction in all they do. I am so thankful for friends like these!